2012 COPS Conference Recap: Training to Address Veterans in Crisis Highlighted

Image: 2012 COPS Conference Recap: Training to Address Veterans in Crisis HighlightedThe audible cringe from the audience was understandable, as they watched the suspect in the video wave a gun within 5 feet of the officer who had pulled him over. Fortunately, the officer ultimately succeeded in talking him down from harming himself or others at the scene. After viewing the video, the attendees of the workshop Keeping Officers Safe through Collaborative Responses to Veterans in Crisis, commented on what the officer, whose actions were recorded in real-time by an in-car camera, did right and what she might have done better to secure her safety and those of her partners when responding to a call involving a military veteran in crisis.

The workshop was moderated by Wayne Shellum, Training Services Director of the Upper Midwest Community Policing Institute and featured training instructors John Baker and Bill Micklus. As lead trainers for the COPS-funded training program, Public Safety De-escalation Tactics for Military Veterans in Crisis, each brought a unique perspective to the workshop, including Baker’s experience as a retired Marine with 22 years served and Micklus’ law enforcement experience of 29 years with Burnsville (MN) Police Department.

Wayne Shellum was interviewed for a COPS Office podcast, called Public Safety De-escalation Tactics for Military Veterans. The podcast was released in August 2012 and can be accessed via the COPS Office website. For more information on the training program, call 651.917.2255 or email info@umcpi.org.

The workshop provided highlights of the training program, which was launched in July in San Antonio, Texas, and will be provided to 15 regions across the nation. Issues discussed included the impact of multiple deployments, sustained operations, irregular nature of combat, Traumatic Brain Injury, post-traumatic stress, and a host of other stressors that converge on returning veterans and increase the potential of risk to public safety.

The presenters stressed that most veterans are successful in their post-deployment reintegration into their communities. However, for those veterans who may experience a crisis requiring public safety intervention, a collaborative response that is steeped in a basic understanding of veterans’ issues and characterized by multidisciplinary information sharing is the key to achieving a positive outcome. With proper training, public safety personnel and their partners (911 dispatchers, Fire and Rescue, EMS, chaplains) can learn skills and develop tools to defuse a potentially life threatening situation and protect the safety of both our public and military heroes.

Attendees were encouraged to download the workshop presentation from the COPS Office website when it becomes available, to reference available services such as the local county veteran services’ officers, Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, the National Military Family Association, and explore tools such as the PTSD Coach mobile app1, and the growing number of Veteran Treatment Courts 2.

1 Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

2 Referenced by the Community Policing Dispatch in June 2012, in the article Montgomery County (PA) Veterans Treatment Court Recognizes Unique Needs of Veterans.

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